Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe

By Jennifer W. Kyker | Go to book overview

SIX
Listening as Politics

Just after Independence Day in April 2008, the Black Spirits shifted restlessly on clanking metal seats as their borrowed bus made its way toward Chimanimani, a quiet hamlet nestled on the slopes of a spectacular mountain range in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands. Across the valley, the slate-gray cliffs of the Chimanimani National Park rose from a verdant canopy of moss-draped musasa and mu nhondo trees, their foliage plunging skyward through tendrils of traveling clouds. Here, the stunted shrubbery of subalpine slopes gave way to a flat plain carpeted unexpectedly by a layer of sand, its particles as fine and white as the faroff seashore. Huddled in the fog, eroded granite obelisks stood sentinel as the terrain plummeted downward to reveal a thin ribbon of stream glistening between grassy banks far below.

Seemingly lost in time, Chimanimani has long offered refuge for an eccentric collection of farmers, artists, hippies, and wanderers. Yet its residents have also become entangled in the politics of the present. In the wake of the government’s “fast-track” resettlement program, Chimanimani’s commercial plantations of fragrant eucalyptus and pine trees were repeatedly subject to arson, killing farmworkers who labored desperately to stop the raging flames.1 After the discovery of gold in nearby Chiadzwa, the region faced a sudden influx of smugglers and wildcat miners, or makorokoza, who struggled to stay one step ahead of a growing police presence. Long a hotbed of political opposition, Chimanimani was also home to a regional office of the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC. In a brazen display of opposition to the government’s fast-track land reforms, constituents in Chimanimani even elected a white commercial farmer, Roy Bennett, as their representative in the parliamentary elections of 2000.2

Just as elsewhere around the nation, the vagaries of Zimbabwean politics significantly affected the social and artistic life of Chimanimani. Central to the town’s social calendar, for example, the Chimanimani Arts Festival was held annually from 1998 until 2003, when it was suspended in the face of mounting political and economic challenges. Over time, however, resilient local residents adapted, reviving the Chimanimani Arts Festival in 2007. By 2008, the festival boasted an impressive line-up of both local and national acts, including Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits, sungura singer Nicholas Zacharia, bohemian

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Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - The Art of Determination 3
  • One - Hwaro/Foundations 31
  • Two - Performing the Nation’s History 59
  • Three - Singing Hunhu after Independence 85
  • Four - Neria- Singing the Politics of Inheritance 109
  • Five - Return to Dande 127
  • Six - Listening as Politics 147
  • Seven - What Shall We Do?- Music, Dialogue, and HIV/AIDS 169
  • Eight - Listening in the Wilderness 203
  • Conclusion - I Have Finished My Portion of the Field 219
  • Notes 227
  • Bibliography 257
  • Index 275
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